October 27, 2012
Sandy returned to hurricane strength Saturday as it churned toward the U.S. northeast coast where it threatens to become one of the worst storms in decades. The storm, dubbed “Frankenstorm” by some weather watchers, would combine elements of a tropical cyclone, and a winter storm and is forecast to reach the U.S. coast close to Halloween.
The Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team currently is en route, ready to brave the storm and deploy StickNet probes to gather data.
John Schroeder, professor of atmospheric science, is a charter member and director of the team. He is an expert on how hurricanes interact with man’s built environment at landfall and has been actively intercepting hurricanes since 1998.
“Our hurricane research team is dedicated to mitigating the effects of land-falling hurricanes on life and property,” Schroeder said. “To that end, we deploy instrumented towers that gather high-resolution storm data at a time when most conventional observation systems fail.”
Schroeder explained that once the instruments are set, team members head for safety until the storm passes.
“We try to place everything and get out of the way before the wind gets much above tropical storm force (39 mph),” he said. “Any later, and things start falling, like tree branches, power lines and other debris, which increases the danger and limits the team’s mobility.”